NASCAR’s France: No fine for Keselowski’s comments

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In an interview on Fox Business Network, NASCAR chairman Brian France has said that Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski would not be fined for his angry comments against the sanctioning body following Saturday’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“That’s the beauty of NASCAR – we do allow the drivers to express themselves in that way, even if they say things that we disagree with,” France said. “I certainly disagree with everything that he said, but look, they’re frustrated, this is the most intense racing in the world. Not surprising that every once in a while, when things don’t go your way, you blow off a lot of steam.”

Keselowski attacked NASCAR for what he saw as unfair targeting of his Penske Racing team after finishing ninth in the race on Saturday night. He and teammate Joey Logano failed pre-race inspection and had the rear-end housings on both of their cars confiscated; Logano’s car was rolled onto the starting grid just before the field went out for their pace laps.

“The things I’ve seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything I believe in,” Keselowski said in his expletive-laced tirade.

After France commented on Keselowski, the Fox Business interviewer then brought up Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine earlier this season for critical comments against the new Generation-6 cars and asked France why he was fined and Keselowski would not be.

“The line that we draw is, you can’t criticize racing product,” France explained. “You can criticize our decisions, criticize everything else, which is more than any other sport might allow. But just don’t go talking about ‘Our racing product isn’t the best in the world,’ because it is.”

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.